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Sure, Shaquille O’Neal had a part in the origin of Basketball Wives, just not the way we like to claim. Shaunie Henderson had filed for divorce from her NBA legend husband in 2009, aware the future wouldn’t be rosy walking away from the high-flying NBA life. After putting her professional life on hold for the duration of their marriage, she embarked on the media mogul part. It started with gathering a cast of ladies who have lived the WAG life, shopping it to networks, and going all-in as an executive producer of what was a rare reality show concept in 2010.

People love, hate, or love to hate Basketball Wives but it kept going and established Shaunie’s identity outside of Shaq’s ex. And she was willing to walk away from it for a strong reason. On the TMI Podcast with her now husband, Keion Henderson, Shaunie disclosed they had a meaningful conversation about her reality TV career. But Keion is her biggest cheerleader. He expressed that just her offer to leave showed she was serious about making their relationship work.

When I met her and we finally started talking about marriage, this is what I knew. She says, ‘If you require me to, I’ll walk away from it all.’ Wow, and her exactly, she said, ‘I will walk away from it all.’ And here is the mark of love,Keion said on the TMI podcast.

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They began dating around 2019. Basketball Wives had been on the air for nine years by then and had Los Angeles and Orlando spinoffs after the flagship show starring Shaunie. She said on this podcast that she started it out of survival mode but also because she wanted to leave her kids a legacy comparable to her NBA star ex.

Keion, though, is the pastor of Houston Life Church and not a public personality. She gave him the freedom to decide if he wanted to be involved or have her leave it entirely. He, however, decided against it. “You don’t have to walk away from what you built before me,” he told Shaunie. “Because I’m not gonna let these people make me change you into a version of yourself you won’t be happy with to satisfy them. Because if she changes into a version of herself that makes them happy, they will soon become unhappy with the version she changed herself into. People cannot be satisfied.” 

Shaunie was willing to unplug Basketball Wives

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Shaunie reiterates in her book that she didn’t cash in on Shaquille O’Neal’s fame. She learned the ropes of reality TV to become a media mogul and built her show from scratch. Her romantic life was not a running theme. The initial seasons focused on her business ventures and her co-parenting relationship with Shaq. When it came to including Keion, he explained his perspective. “So, since this marriage is about what goes on in our house, you do you, I’m gonna do me.”

She said on the podcast that she doesn’t care about the criticism but cares about what her loved ones think. So if Keion or her kids wanted, she would’ve been willing to put Basketball Wives behind her. But Keion encouraged the opposite.My husband pushed me big time, you know, because he’s like, babe, people need to hear that part.” 

Keion also encouraged her to continue her book and is her biggest motivation that led to its publishing in 2024. No word on whether Basketball Wives is renewed for another season but its popularity ensures it’s going to be on air for a while.

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Stay tuned for more such updates, and to follow what Shaquille O’Neal’s ex-agent, Leonard Armato, has to say about the Reese-Clark rivalry and more, watch this video.